Mariners president Chuck Armstrong: The side fans never see
Seattle Times reader Bill Knudsen of Kirkland has been a Mariners fan since 1977 and was a Mariners employee from 1983 to 1989. He writes in support of his former boss, Mariners president Chuck Armstrong, who along with CEO Howard Lincoln, has been criticized for the baseball club's 10-year playoff absence and recent struggles.
Enough is enough.
I am an avid reader of The Seattle Times, but I am getting sick of all the Chuck Armstrong bashing that goes on.
I know Chuck Armstrong. I have worked for Chuck Armstrong. The longtime Mariners president is an excellent executive who has given the better part of the past 27 years to this community. When he wasn't working 14 hours per day for the M's, he was helping the University of Washington, serving as interim athletic director during its transition from Mike Lude to Barbara Hedges.
Chuck Armstrong is one of the most honest men I have ever known. His integrity is unquestionable. He is loyal to a fault. He cares more than any of you will ever know. He has a photographic memory and is incredibly smart. He served his country in the U.S. Navy as an officer. He has an engineering degree from Purdue (where he actually played baseball well enough to get an offer to play from the Kansas City Royals) and a law degree from Stanford.
And he has managed to remain with the club despite working for several owners who could easily have sent most of us to the loony bin. Trust me when I say that working for former owner George Argyros was no picnic. I know. I was there.
Chuck Armstrong gives 110 percent every day. He and his family have made huge sacrifices as they have helped build this franchise. With his leadership, our community can now enjoy one of the crown jewels of Major League Baseball, Safeco Field (which was paid for several years early, by the way).
If he is to take the heat for the Mariners' current lack of success on the field now, then why is he not celebrated for the club's success from 1995 to 2003? During that nine-year span, Seattle had the third-best record in MLB. And in the four years from 2000 to 2003, we had the best record on MLB.
The naysayers seem to forget that!
Remember our old friend, Ken Griffey Jr.? The owner told Chuck Armstrong: "Do not sign that kid". He did it anyway, because it was the right decision. Remember when Alex Rodriguez's mother said her kid would never play in Seattle? Well, Chuck Armstrong flew to Miami and personally made that happen. I know A-Rod is a leper now, but he is still one of the finest athletes to ever put on a Mariners uniform and he played incredibly well during his time with us. Remember when the East Coast press said that Lou Piniella would never manage in Seattle? As I remember it, he was here for quite a while?
After Bill Bavasi left, for the remainder of the 2008 season while Lee Pelekoudas was the acting GM, Chuck personally overrode the trade of Adrian Beltre to the Giants for Jonathan Sanchez. He also nixed sending Jarrod Washburn to the Twins for some rum-drum pitcher with no options (whom the Twins later released during that offseason). For some reason unfathomable to me, he is still receiving criticism for getting involved and overriding those trades. Why?
Let us not forget that he works for a boss. And he has several owners. Sometimes you have to do things because your boss says to. Chuck Armstrong is not managing in a vacuum, but trying to work within the system he was given. Yet it has been my observation that he is a man of his convictions, someone more than willing to fight for what he honestly believes is right.
True, the Mariners got old. Hey, it happens to all of us. Maybe they even stayed with those guys one or two years too long. But with the help of general manager Jack Zduriencik, manager Eric Wedge, and some damn good scouts, the team is being rebuilt from the ground up, so the Mariners potentially will have another 10-year run. Is rebuilding painful to go though? Sure. Is it the right thing to do? Absolutely.
In 2011, the Mariners improved by six wins, to 67. In 2012, we improved by eight wins, to 75. I would submit that those improvements are pretty significant, but clearly not good enough for the masses. I get that.
In 2013, I predict further improvement. Chuck Armstrong and the Mariners' organization have a clear, well-thought-out plan. And when this baseball reboot is completed, we should have a team that is successful for a decade.
Mark my words: History will show that the winter of 2012-2013 was the perfect time to lock up a good seat location and invest in season tickets. You don't buy stocks at the top of the market; you buy them when they are out of favor.
Buy tickets, don't buy tickets? Watch the games, don't watch the games? I couldn't care less. But this guy has taken a $10 million franchise, from the verge of bankruptcy under the original six owners, and through three ownership groups, helped turn it into franchise worth arguably $850 million.
Who among you could accomplish that?
Leave the man alone and let him do his job. You should be so lucky to have someone like Chuck Armstrong work for you.
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